Trying to get a loan from a big bank turned out to be a big headache for the doctors at Desert Veterinary Medical Specialists. Just when they were about to give up on their dreams of buying the practice where they worked, they finally found a lender who understood their business, believed in their vision, and helped bring it to life. Since then, DVMS has entrusted Gateway Bank as their go-to financing partner for over 10 years, a key partnership that has helped grow their company and give back to the community.

True to their name Desert Veterinary Medical Specialists (DVMS) is a special type of practice located in a special setting. The business provides advanced veterinary care, including internal medicine, radiology, and cardiology, in a building that houses other specialists for animals, including dermatologists, oncologists, and more. Pet owners can get total care for their animals in one convenient spot.

What makes the DVMS business model attractive for patients and customers is what made it complex for a lender. Drs. Riensche, Heffelman, and Church wanted to buy the practice from its previous owners, but every bank they called declined to help. The open concept of the building made it too difficult for most banks to secure a loan. No one was willing to take the time to understand DVMS’s business or get creative with a loan — until Dr. Riensche met James Christensen, President of Gateway Bank in Mesa, AZ.

“I was floored that a President of the bank would call me back, come out to get to know us, and understand our business. It felt really different than the big, national banks,” Dr. Riensche recalls. She was not only thankful for Gateway’s warmth and flexible approach, but also that the team was willing to walk her and her business partners through the process.

“Veterinarians are often too compassionate and haven’t been taught about business,” Dr. Riensche says. “Gateway really helped us understand business and our financial future, review our lending options, and discuss why each one would be good or bad at that given time. They were happy to educate us and never made us feel stupid. “

Flourishing with the right financing

After getting to know more about DVMS’s business and the veterinarians’ goals, Gateway Bank structured the right loan to meet their needs and fund the purchase of their practice. Since then, DVMS has continued working with our team on additional financing to expand to two more sites, purchase new equipment, and get a Paycheck Protection Program loan during the pandemic, which was fully forgiven thanks to Gateway’s guidance.

Every step of the way, the doctors have been thankful to have a caring, creative, local lending partner. “The thing that makes a difference is they really get to know you and your business. You don’t have to worry that decisions are being made by someone who doesn’t know you. You’re not a line item on a form,” Dr. Riensche says. “We’ve always felt like Gateway Bank is a silent partner in our business. We’re so grateful for the opportunity they gave us to become owners. In turn, we use our business success to help our employees achieve their dreams. Gateway gave us that opportunity.”

It’s more than just banking. It’s building stronger communities.

Helping small businesses like DVMS reach their goals is one of the best parts about being a local bank. Each time they succeed, our community becomes stronger. We couldn’t be happier for Desert Veterinary Medical Specialists, and we’re proud to be their banking partner of choice.